During the offseason, there was rampant speculation that if the Tampa Bay Rays were to trade David Price, the Los Angeles Dodgers would be one of the most aggressive among the many potential suitors. Obviously, a trade never came to fruition, as the Rays, buoyed by hopes of a deep postseason run, elected to keep Price in place as their staff ace.
Now that it is June, things have changed.
The Rays look like a team that is destined to miss the postseason, as they are currently 13 ½ games out of the AL East lead and eight games out of the Wild Card race. While it is still possible that the Rays could make a run that puts them back in contention, it is very unlikely with Matt Moore out for the year and Wil Myers out for eight weeks.
Price’s numbers do not appear to be exceptional – 4-5 with a 4.03 ERA – but his peripherals tell a different story. With a seemingly absurd K/BB ratio of 11.22 and an FIP of 3.14, Price is every bit the pitcher he has always been, and would only further benefit from a move to the National League.
If the Rays are sellers at the deadline, Price will be their big ticket item. Could the Dodgers pursue Price – under contract through the end of 2015 – and assemble one of the best starting rotations in baseball history?
Any discussion for Price would likely involve some combination of the very best prospects the Dodgers have, including Joc Pederson, Julio Urias, Corey Seager and Zach Lee. Giving up any of these prospects would amount to mortgaging the future of the ballclub, and it would likely result in pressure to extend Price’s contract to avoid having to give up their best prospects for what would amount to a 1 ½ year rental.
With the Dodgers desperate for some kind of spark, they may look to make a major deal in advance of the deadline in order to shake things up and make a run at the postseason. They are still very much in the Wild Card race, and the addition of Price would make them a very scary opponent in the offseason, even if their offense remains inconsistent.
Such a deal would also result in some additional changes, as such a rotation would greatly benefit from a strong defensive backing. As they are currently constructed, the Dodgers defense is incredibly weak and would require additional moves to be made. Slick-fielding shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena would benefit the rotation with his defensive presence, requiring the Dodgers to consider moving Hanley Ramirez to third.
Any depletion of the farm system is very dangerous, especially given the amount of emphasis the Dodgers have placed on rebuilding the system. The cost of Price would be astronomical, but an underperforming Dodger club with their current payroll might be willing to roll the dice on prospects in an attempt to save their season.
It would be a very hard deal to resist, but it is not clear how wise a move it would be for an aging Dodgers team that will be in need of some talented young players at the big league level very soon. Pederson is looking more and more like he is ready for the bigs any day now, and Seager projects very well as an infielder and cornerstone of the Dodger future. Urias may be the best pitching prospect in all of baseball, and Lee still looks like a mid-rotation starter.
There is no guarantee that prospects will ever develop, but these are the best homegrown players the Dodgers have had in a very long time. Making a move for Price at this cost would be a very big gamble, but it would be a gamble that the Dodgers may ultimately feel they must make.
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